Major Signs to Check if your Ball Python is Sick and Dying

If you have a ball python then there is some specialized knowledge that you’ll need to acquire to provide your pet snake with the proper care and surroundings he deserves. Among those pieces of information, knowing the signs that your python shows during a serious health condition is important.

Several signs may lead to your ball python’s death. Different diseases cause different kinds of signs. Such as- the signs your ball python will show if he has a breathing problem are no similar to the signs he’ll show if he has mite infestation. So, to know the reasons that are causing your ball python to show these signs, proper research is needed to be done. 

In this article, I am going to teach you the signs of ball python dying to help you understand what to look for and how to provide your ball python with the proper treatment that he’ll require to get better.

signs of ball python dying

Signs That Your Ball Python is Dying

There are some serious health issues that can cause death if proper treatment is not done in time. Looking out for the signs of those diseases can help you avoid such a tragic event. So, here I’ve provided the signs of some common illnesses that may cause death:

1. Respiratory Issues

Breathing problem refers to either your ball python having a respiratory infection or he is suffering from mouth rot (this is caused by getting injured in the mouth and later becoming infected). He can also be having a parasite infection which is causing him breathing problems. Some signs can push you towards the conclusion that your ball python breathing problem.

respiratory infection ball python symptoms

If you observe your snake accurately the signs will seem very clear if he has a respiratory infection, like-

  • If your ball python is having trouble breathing that means he’ll breathe with his mouth because of his nose being blocked. As a result, he needs to keep his mouth wide open while raising his head so that gravity pulls the fluids to his lungs and thus frees his airways.
  • If you notice a gurgling, wheezing, or gasping sound coming out of your ball python, as he can’t clear his airways. That means he is straining to breathe.
  • Mouth rot can cause breathing problems too. It is caused by getting infected due to being injured in the mouth by bites of prey or by losing a tooth. The signs to look for if this is the case are- checking inside your ball python’s mouth and look for any kind of pus, swelling, or redness.

If these are the cases that means your ball python needs to be taken under medical intervention as soon as possible. Because if you are too late, you’ll notice around and in your ball python’s mouth, meaning he has died due to having a respiratory infection.

2. Loss of Weight & Appetite

There are several reasons why your ball python may not be eating. It can be due to stress, discomfort, digestion problems, etc. so, loss of appetite is not something to worry about as it is very common for ball pythons. But if your ball python is not being able to eat for weeks and is losing weight then this could mean he is going through some kind of serious illness.

So, make sure to observe if your ball python has his appetite and is managing his weight according to his size and age. If not, then this could mean he is very ill. So, if that is the case then observe your ball python’s weight. If it seems to be getting lesser with time, if the spine of your ball python is becoming visible, then make sure to get him to check out before it gets too late.

Even though there are many reasons behind a ball python refusing to eat, weight loss usually means illness and nothing else. So, observe your ball python’s bony spines and upper body to make sure that he is not losing weight, to assure your ball python is healthy and happy.

3. Swelling & Scale Rot

Swelling and scale rot are two key indicators for your ball python’s illness. If your ball python is showing these two signs that means he is facing serious diseases starting from several infections to egg binding. So, it is very important to keep an eye on these two symptoms to help your ball python get rid of such diseases.

The two main reasons behind your ball python showing scale rot are
  • If your ball python has pink or red scales on his belly that means he has sepsis.
  • If your ball python has bumpy scales that means he is facing mite infestation.
Main three reasons behind your ball python swelling are
  • If your ball python has swelling and has redness in his gums and around his mouth that means he has infectious stomatitis.
  • If you see the midsection of your ball python’s body get swollen that means he has cryptosporidiosis.
  • Another reason for swelling is egg bidding.

If these are the case, then you must take your ball python to a veterinarian and have him treated.

4. Dehydration

Dehydration is one of the most common symptoms that can take place due to several different illnesses. The signs of dehydration are quite visible.

  • If your ball python is dehydrated all you need to do is look into his eyes and observe if his eyes are sunken and cloudy or clear and bright. If it’s sunken and cloudy that means your ball python is dehydrated.
  • Another sign that indicates your ball python is dehydrated is the presence of unshed skin. It means due to dehydration your ball python hasn’t been able to get rid of his old skin.
  • Due to dehydration, your ball python’s saliva may seem stickier and thicker than usual.

If you notice these signs in your ball python, make sure that you are providing him with an appropriate amount of freshwater and that his water intake is being monitored. And if you think it’s too late to take any measures, take your ball python to his veterinarian for better suggestions.

5. Discharges

For a ball python, any kind of discharge plays a vital role in determining if the ball python is dealing with any kind of health condition. Discharges are normally visible in the area near the ball python’s mouth, eyes, or nostrils.

signs of ball python dying

The appearance of these discharges may be bubbly or leaky depending on the illness. Such as-if your ball python has mouth rot then the discharge will be pus-like.

So, if you notice any kind of discharge in those areas, make sure to consult a veterinarian as soon as possible because these kinds of discharges usually mean your ball python is dealing with some kind of serious illness that needs to be treated immediately. Therefore, make sure you are not neglecting these signs.

6. Lethargy

Lethargy can be suspected if your ball python is not moving much or at all, or if he is not doing his regular activities like before. This is a serious sign of disease. This can take place due to not getting the proper amount of heat that it requires.

This sign can be very hard to detect as ball pythons usually spend a lot of time in hiding. So, it is important to keep a close eye all the time.

Why Detecting A Sick Ball Python Can Be Challenging?

If you have a ball python then you must know that ball pythons are calm and slow animals and they don’t show any kind of pain or emotion that other animals do. They tend to stay by themselves and hide whenever they feel bad or whenever illness occurs. So, it is very difficult to know when your ball python is facing any disease or illness.

sick ball python

Another thing that makes it difficult to know when your ball python is dealing with a serious illness is the fact that they take a lot of time to properly show any kind of symptoms. By the time they start showing symptoms, it may be too late to save them and may result in them dying as not understanding the occurrence of illness makes it even harder to cure in time.

Therefore, it is very important to observe your ball python on a regular basis and to look for any kind of irregular behavior he’s showing. Make sure to observe your ball python’s feeding habit, behavior, etc.

If you see any kind of difference then make sure to contact a veterinarian or at least research the signs to understand the cause before it gets too late.


In this article, I have talked about major the signs of ball python dying. These signs don’t necessarily mean that your ball python will die, but it means that your ball python needs to be treated immediately and if it’s not too late, there’s a chance you can get him back in good health.

I hope this article was able to provide you with all the necessary information regarding the topic and wish you the best of luck in giving your ball python a healthy and long life.